“An ARRL Membership Challenge”

ARRL logoMost of you have already heard of the ARRL board’s decision to increase membership dues and make changes in the way we receive magazines, such as QST. If not, I invite you to read ARRL President Rick Roderick’s (K5UR) letter dated July 23, 2023, in an ARRL bulletin. It is available on the ARRL web site.

For the past year or so, our division director and other League officials have been warning us about the serious financial situation that the ARRL has been in the past few years caused primarily by inflation, especially the rampant cost increases of print media such as QST. In May, members were asked to take the membership dues survey. About 20% of ARRL membership answered that call and the Board has taken the results of that survey and made the tough choices.

Like many of you, I do not relish the idea of a dues increase, and I especially do not like that the print magazines will no longer be part of the membership benefits (you still get the digital versions of all the magazines free with membership). Now, to receive a printed QST, On The Air, NCJ, or QEX magazine, you will have to subscribe separately. I am one of those that still likes to hold onto a paper book or magazine.

But then, I think how much the ARRL, ham radio clubs (most of them ARRL-affiliated) and my fellow amateur radio operators mean to me. It boils down to people, to friendship, and camaraderie. If not for the ARRL and for all the clubs and ham radio events, I would miss out on the great friendships forged through the past 30+ years. My relationship with the League, affiliated clubs and all the individuals I have met through them has had a tremendous positive impact on my life. I love the coffee meets, hamfest gatherings, convention get-togethers, club suppers, and all the ham radio nets where we get to chat, laugh, innovate, maybe even instigate, and otherwise socialize.

There is no doubt in my mind that this amazing hobby and service would not exist as it is today without the ARRL. The League’s advocacy and lobbying is why we have so many amateur radio bands and modes. Many commercial entities want some of our spectrum; it is a constant battle that continues today. What chance would we have to keep our frequency privileges without the ARRL’s effort? Very little in my opinion.

The ARRL is much, much more than “just” a magazine subscription. For instance, New England Division Director Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, reminds us that the ARRL provides:

• Spectrum Defense
• Advocacy in local, national, and international regulation and policymaking
• Support from restrictive antenna regulation & zoning
• Volunteer Monitor Program
• Promoting amateur radio to the public
• ARRL Teacher’s Institute programs to promote STEM learning through amateur radio

There are dozens of additional services and programs available to members. ARRL VEC program, Logbook Of The World, ARRL Learning Center, Training, Webinars, National Traffic System, EmComm and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®), and ARRL lab and technical support/RFI. In January the Board passed a motion to create an ARRL Ham Bootcamp, and the League is also working to promote six- and ten-meter operation for Technician class amateurs. The list goes on!

The last membership rate hike was in 2016, and before that, 2001. For our more senior members (age 70+) who might be stressed financially due to fixed incomes, the ARRL is planning a monthly payment option.

Instead of seeing these dues increases and other changes at the ARRL as a negative, let’s instead support the League even further. Last year the ARRL lost about a million dollars. This year that figure is expected to more than double. Dues increases alone will not make up for all of that.

If you can afford it, I challenge you to do one or more of the following:

Become a Diamond Club member. The additional financial support will help close the gap and get the League into better financial health.

Donate to one of the ARRL funds, such as Spectrum Defense, Education & Technology, W1AW Endowment, or the General fund. See https://home.arrl.org/action/Donate

If you are a Life Member, consider making a monthly or annual donation.

Some may think the ARRL has not been a good steward of our membership money. While any business, including the League, can benefit from frequent analysis of expenditures and “tightening of the belt,” I do not believe the ARRL is wasting our money. As Eastern MA section manager, I have met and continue to meet many League officials in person and on-line and they are doing their best in a difficult inflationary time.

When my membership expiration nears, I will renew AND join the Diamond Club. I will adapt and get used to reading QST on my iPad. I appreciate all that the League continues to do, and I am thankful for all the friendships I have made because of the ARRL and affiliated clubs and nets. Please, if you can afford to do so, accept my challenge. Turn a negative into a positive!


ARRL Eastern Massachusetts Section
Section Manager: Jon W McCombie, N1ILZ

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